Grassroots – A Club like No Udder

Grassroots is the University of Auckland Rural Health Club.

If you’re a Nursing, Medicine, Optometry, Pharmacy, Medical Imaging, or Audiology student at UoA, you can join us!

We are all about promoting rural health and rural health careers. We put on awesome educational, sporting and social events which showcase what rural life has to offer those in the health field.

Our events are geared not just towards rural students – everyone is encouraged to get a taste of what rural healthcare entails.  So get involved and go hard. Rural Health. Hard.

Make sure to like us on Facebook – Grassroots Rural Health Club

Follow us on Instagram –

Meet the team: 2022 team coming soon!


Kate Dunstall

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Kia ora koutou katoa! It is a privilege to be the President of Grassroots for 2022. This club has a proud history of exposing students to rural health and rural lifestyles in Aotearoa. We do this by immersing students in rural communities, running rural flavoured events, and running trips and Noho Marae across the North Island. For 2022, we have a vast array of trips and events planned, and I encourage you all to get amongst. Getting involved will open your eyes to the rewarding working environment of rural health careers and will give you a taster of a lifestyle you can’t get in the city. I grew up in Waihi Beach, a small town at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. I then spent three years at the University of Otago doing my BSc in Psychology and Māori Studies. I spent Fourth Year placed in Waikato Hospital and I am now a Fifth Year Medical Student in the Pūkawakawa Cohort. I’m doing my placement mainly out of Whangārei Hospital up north with a stint in the Bay of Islands. My upbringing and life path thus far have highlighted the great aspects of living and growing up in a rural community, and have contrasted the significant inequities our rural communities face. This is a multifaceted issue, and a large aspect of this issue is health. Grassroots is part of an effort to get in behind rural health and we strive for the betterment of our communities across the motu. So sign up, show face, and get involved with what we have to offer, you won’t regret it!-


Kate Dunstall

Communications Officer
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Kia ora koutou katoa!

I’m your Communications Officer for 2021! (I’m the one in the middle in the blue dress) My role was rebadged from Vice President External and my goal is to strengthen the communications between Grassroots and other organisations such as SoRHA, RGPN, and AUMSA. I’m also in charge of online presence, so go like us on Facebook and Instagram! I was previously one half of the 2020 Māori and Pacific Advocacy Reps and will use my experience in this role to continue promoting rural and Māori health and health careers.

I’m originally from Waihi in the Coromandel, then spent 3 years in Dunedin doing my undergrad as a BSc in Psychology and Māori Studies. I am now a 4th year med student. I’m doing my placement in Waikato Hospital for my 4th year and am super excited to start clinical work!

I have loved my time on the Grassroots Exec so far, so I am super excited for another year of getting amongst it! I would highly recommend going on the trips we run to rural areas and getting involved with events we organise!


Sophie St Clair

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Kia ora!

I’m Sophie, a 3rd year med student, and I’m excited to be your Grassroots treasurer for 2021! I’m stoked to take on this role to oversee the ca$h for all the fantastic events we will be having.

I’m from the mighty Napier (HBFA), so I grew up with some rural exposure. I certainly gained an appreciation of what it’s like to live in the regions, and the under-resourced healthcare in rural areas. I’m keen to use this knowledge to promote rural health and to help reduce the evident inequities.

I’m excited to work with the rest of the Grassroots Exec to achieve these goals and help out with some awesome events. The other reps have some great ideas and I’ll be ensuring the funding runs smoothly by throwing ca$h into these events. I’m pumped for an awesome year and can’t wait to see Grassroots continuing to thrive in 2021!

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Malaika Hawkins & Alexis Cowbourne

Māori & Pacific Advocacy Reps
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Kia Ora, Mālo e Lelei, Talofa lava and many more pacific greetings. We are your Māori and Pacific Advocacy Representatives for Grassroots for 2021.

My name is Malaika, I whakapapa back to the areas of Paeroa, Mohaka and Tokoroa. I’m Alexis, I whakapapa back to Taumarunui and the Waikato but grew up in Tauranga.

We have a passion for Māori and Pacific and the need to help our people. We understand the strong connection that our people have to the land which is generally rural. We have a strong passion to strengthening the workforce that serves rural health. We aim to help strengthen the connection between Māori and Pacific to strive to work for their whenua. But yet also strengthen the knowledge and tikanga understanding for everyone we meet. If you see us around come say hi and get in contact with us.

Ngā mihi, Malaika and Alexis


Olivia Ray & Magnus Larbi

Social Reps
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Kia ora, We are Liv and Magnus, your grassroots social reps for 2021! We are so excited to be in this role for 2021, and after many events going on hiatus for 2020 we can’t wait to plan their epic return next year. As incoming third year medical students hailing from Napier and Queenstown, we have got to experience the awesome grassroots community in second year and really want to continue promoting rural health within the FMHS faculty. We can’t wait to meet everyone at these events next year. Liv and Magnus x


Maral Ghamkhar & Sophie Thomas

Audiology Reps
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Kia ora! We’re Maral and Sophie and we’re super excited to be the first Audiology Grassroots reps in 2021!

We’re both in our second year of our Master of Audiology degree. Maral studied a Bachelor of Health Science and Sophie studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland prior to our postgrad studies.

Although we’re both Aussies, we’re fully committed to our roles as advocates for rural health opportunities throughout New Zealand; Sophie grew up in the Waikato and Maral finished high school in Palmerston North. Due to the short duration of our course (it’s a 2 year degree!), our cohort hasn’t had the chance to fully explore the audiology services within rural communities in the past. This is why we’re stoked to be a part of Grassroots; we hope that our roles will allow us to integrate more rural opportunities as part of our programme, while also connecting with our peers in other health professional degrees within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Bring on 2021!!


Parham Alishahi

Medical Imaging Rep
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Kia ora,

I’m Parham from Rotorua, and I will be a second year (clinical) medical imaging student in 2021. I have a keen interest in our environment, enjoy going to events, and believe in the powers of having a good time in the rural-side. But like all great things, there’s a catch. Radiology/radiography hold complex challenges when it comes to equitable services to rural areas. Also, being poised on the cusp of a technological revolution, it is beneficial to be forward thinking, as inequality in access and health outcomes could become even more apparent in the field when advancements are tied to the area you live in. Through insightful and fun events, it is our hope that we can foster interest in rural health, while creating some memorable moments for years to come!

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Daniel Wells & Jenny Sotto

Nursing Reps
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Kia ora!

We are Daniel and Jenny and we are your Grassroots Nursing Representatives for 2021! We are currently in our 3rd year of nursing (woohoo!)

Jenny – “I grew up in the Philippines and love cooking, hiking and nature walks! I enjoy being outdoors (especially beaches!) Although I didn’t grow up in rural New Zealand, i am an avid rural health advocate and aim to combat health inequities in these areas”.

Daniel – “Tēnā koutou I hail from New Plymouth in Taranaki but have strong rural connections to the Ōkato/Warea region of the district. Having relatives that farm in rural areas and being exposed to a rural lifestyle in my childhood I developed a strong drive for all things rural. Contrastingly, I enjoy meeting new people, learning and experiencing new things!”

Our goal is to encourage aspiring healthcare professionals to work in rural areas of New Zealand! We acknowledge the evident need for more of our health professional whānau to develop the same kind of passion for rural health as those who hail from these regions. We aim to achieve this by organising social events, tutorial support groups, fundraising and trips to rural areas of New Zealand! So keep an eye for more announcements and social events. We look forward to meeting you next year! Ngā mihi.


Victoria Murphy

Taranaki Site Rep
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Hi, I’m Victoria, and I’d love to convince you to go NAKI HARDCORE!

I’m in my 5th year of MBChB, third year of Grassroots, and very happy to be placed in Taranaki at long last. Finally I can be around the sheep I love without having to walk to Cornwall Park, and enjoy swimming and surfing in the freezing cold beaches of the West Coast! We at Grassroots can’t wait to bring you the perfect combination of rowdy rural events and educational awareness of community rural health needs that GRHC provides 🥰

If you’re interested in Taranaki for your 5th year and TI placements please hit me up for a weekend visit! (yes it may involve crashing at my nans house).

Nicola-Mary Geraghty

Vice-President Internal
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Kia ora koutou. My name is Nicola-Mary or Nicky-for-short. 

I hail from Ohakune, at the foot of the beautiful maunga, Ruapehu. I am absolutely stoked to be the 2021 VP for Grassroots.

Rural communities are what makes Aotearoa unique yet they are so often forgotten about in education and health. The obstacles that rural communities face need our help because we can empower others to see that going rural is satisfying, worthwhile and immensely important.

This year I am excited to be placed in Waikato hospital because I’ve been in Auckland too long! However, I’m going to remain as connected as possible to our amazing exec. The team has gotten bigger and I’m over the moon that we are facilitating some interfaculty networking at Grafton.


Pooja Bhatt

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Kia ora koutou,

My name is Pooja, I am a 3rd-year medical student, and I am thrilled to be your Grassroots secretary for 2021!

I was born in India where I spent most of my childhood in a big city however as my parents are from small rural towns of India, I had some exposure to the rural community. At the age of 10, I then migrated to New Plymouth in Taranaki. I then moved down to Dunedin where I completed my undergraduate degree in Public Health in which I gained valuable knowledge around Māori, Pacific and Rural Health.

Growing up in Taranaki has given me great insight onto what it is like to be part of a rural community and I would love to share my knowledge and experiences with others through Grassroots.

My job as a secretary is to oversee administrative details, keeping clear accurate records of Grassroots, and communicate regularly with our talented Grassroots exec and people from the wider community. I am looking forward to meeting you all through our amazing events this year and working with the Grassroots exec.

Dayna and Briaan

Briaan Brown-Sharpe & Dayna Smith

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Kia ora!

We are Briaan and Dayna and we are very excited to be your RRAS reps for 2021!!

Briaan is from a small town in the Manawatu called Marton and loves everything outdoors from hiking to rollerblading. Dayna grew up in rural Whanganui and enjoys anything on the water from surfing to fishing. We are both Otago graduates so while we know how to focus on our studies we appreciate a cheeky fizz up!!!

This year we aim to support phase 2 rural and regional students in their courses ensuring they excel academically and also feel included and comfortable in Auckland and the university environment. We are looking forward to hosting tutorial evenings, social events and support groups.

We are advocates for rural/regional health in New Zealand and we want to encourage others to be involved in this area! Keep an eye out for us on Grafton Campus and at social events we would love to meet you!!!!

GR edu reps

Fraser MacKinlay & Shireen Hasolkar

Education Reps
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Kia ora everyone! We are Fraser and Shireen, and we’re super stoked to be your Grassroots Education-Reps this year. With Shireen hailing from Taranaki and Fraser from Northland, we have a good idea of what it means to live rurally in New Zealand. Fraser loves following the cricket and will most likely never say no to a social drink or two. While, Shireen enjoys hiking and binge-watching FRIENDS every few months, so you guess we are pretty basic like that! We have many juicy ideas lined up on promoting rural health and at this point we can’t wait to meet y’all in the new year. Until then x


Samantha Taveras & Nyasha Chileshe

Sports and Welfare Reps
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Kia Ora!

We are Samantha and Nyasha and we are beyond excited to be your Sports and Welfare reps for 2021!

Both of us are post-graduate students hailing from Auckland and Otago, with backgrounds in Anatomy, Spanish, and Psychology. Growing up in Whanganui and Kaukapakapa has given us both first-hand experience and insight into what life is like in rural areas. We are both extremely passionate about rural health, addressing health inequities, and advocating for our cohort. We also understand that transitioning from a small town to the big smoke can be a big step – so we are keen to ease this transition and turn it into a fun and easy experience!

This year, we hope to support the members of our cohort by focusing on the domains of mental health, physical health, arts, and the solidifications of friendships. This could mean walking the Tongariro crossing, rural sports days, cooking classes, speed friending, advice columns, and much more.

We can’t wait to meet everyone and see some familiar faces back on campus next year. Let’s have a great 2021!


Rhea Colaabavala

Pharmacy Rep
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Kia ora everyone 🙂

I’m Rhea, a third year pharmacy student and the 2021 Pharmacy Grassroots rep. I hail from the beautiful rural town of Whanganui (NOT to be confused with Whangarei). Growing up, I have seen first hand some of the disparities that exist between rural and urban health.

I hope to continue the mahi to educate the students at FMHS about the possibilities within rural health careers. Pharmacy is no exception to this and it has proven to be a rapidly evolving health profession. In particular, rural pharmacist scopes have continued to widen in order to keep up with the demand for accessible healthcare in remote areas.

This year, I am extremely excited to be able to spread the grassroots kaupapa and get more pharmacy students engaged with rural events and opportunities!


Wen Wen Huang

Optometry Rep
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Kia ora! My name is Wen Wen Huang and I’m the grassroots representative for the Optometry cohort currently in the fifth year of my degree.

Although growing up mostly in Auckland, I ultimately have plans to settle in one of the rural towns of Aotearoa. My goal in the exec team is to promote the presence of health disparities between populations in New Zealand, in which have created many health inequities that definitely should not have a place here. I wish to provide both my cohort and peers with insight on what it means to be a rural health professional, and how we must broaden our scope of practise in order to achieve this.

Super excited to be part of the team, bring on 2021!


Jordan Teaukura

Pūkawakawa Site Rep
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Kia orana, my name is Jordan and I am a 5th year medical student based in the Norty North. I’m psyched to be in the role of Pūkawakawa Rep and to work along the Grassroots organisation. Even though I’ve grown up a city kid, I’ve always had an interest in rural health and I was lucky enough to attend the Rural Health Conference in 2018 during my first year of med school. Since then I’ve tried to jump at every rural health opportunity that’s been provided and so it’s pretty cool to now be able to give back to an organisation that has influenced my journey so much so far.
The one thing I’m really looking forward to in 2021 is of course the beaches and coastline that Northland has to offer, but also to organise some cool events with the students up there to make it a year we’d like to remember (2020, you might be one we’d like to forget sorry).
But yeah, I think there’s an email that goes along with this little intro so definitely reach out if there’s anything I can help get amongst.
Cheers and here’s to a cracker of a year!


Elsie Brown

Bay of Plenty Site Rep

Kia ora koutou katoa,

My name is Elsie and I am the Bay of Plenty (BOP) site rep for 2021. I am super excited for the year to come and feel extremely privileged to be in such an important role to work along Grassroots and advocate for our students at the BOP site.

Even though I have not come from a rural area myself, I am really passionate about Grassroots and rural health specifically in terms of addressing health inequities faced by Māori and Pacific in these populations. So I am really looking forward to experiencing rural health first hand, as well as being able to explore the beautiful BOP area.

I am hoping to host many events (if COVID will allow me), so that the BOP cohort can become a tight knit family. I also want to host events to raise awareness of rural health and encourage future years to do their placement in the area by showing them that there is more BOP can offer than its picturesque beaches and good surf.

And of course I am happy to talk to anyone about my role or about the Bay of Plenty clinical site. So I encourage you to reach out if there is anything I can help with or any questions I can answer!! 2021 lesgho!